I have been wanting to try Antica Pizzeria ever since I saw the twitter posts from @ChefLudo and @FrenchChefWife; when a chef and a pizzaphile (Krissy) both rave about a pizza, it’s time to go for a taste. Even better than their posts was the actual experience of both the restaurant and the pizza.

Antica Pizzeria has two locations in Los Angeles, one on Third Street and one in Marina Del Rey (where I went). Do not confuse them with Pizza Antica in the new Santa Monica Place Mall. The major difference is that Antica Pizza has the one of the four VPN designations in California.

VPN is an organization (Associazione Vera Pizza Napoletana) created to preserve and uphold true Neapolitan pizza. This designation makes sure that when you order a pizza from one of these establishments everything is done correctly, including the use of proper ingredients, like the flour (Tipo 00), San Marzano (plum) tomatoes, all natural Fior-di-Latte or Bufala fresh mozzarella, fresh basil, sea salt and yeast. Only fresh, all-natural, non-processed ingredients (preferably imported from Naples or Campania region, are acceptable), the manner in which pizza is prepared (no machine, not even rolling pins), cooked (wood burning ovens only), even the measurements of the circumference and thickness of the center.

If you haven’t had pizza in Naples, this is as close as you will get to tasting it here in the US. I ordered the Napoletana ($13.50), made with tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, basil, and anchovies. I know most of you shudder at the thought of anchovies, much less want them on your pizza, but it is so rare for me to even find anchovies on a menu that I had to order this classic.

They offer 15 other pizzas ranging from a Pizza Blanca al Prosciutto ($14.50), made with fresh mozzarella and garlic topped with Parma prosciutto and arugula (no tomato sauce); Pizza Capricciosa ($14.95), made with tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, basil, artichoke hearts, mushrooms, black olives, and Italian ham; or for those who can’t decide, Pizza Quatro Staggioni ($14.50), with a quarter section each of the mixed seafood, Margherita, Capricciosa, and Marinara.

Since they make everything to order, it took about 15 minutes for my order, so I had plenty of time to peruse the many articles praising Antica Pizzeria from the Los Angeles Times to Saveur magazine. You can create a meal to go if you are in a hurry from their very nice take out section of prepared foods from Arancino di Riso (rice cones filled with peas, ham, and smoked mozzarella), to meatballs and lasagna. They also offer salads, pastas, rissoti, and freshly grilled specialties if you are not in the mood for pizza; nothing on the menu is over $24 and portions are generous.

But I came for the VPN pizza and I could not wait to get the pizza home before trying a slice.

I felt as if I was in Italy from the first bite; the tomato sauce had a perfectly ripe sweetness, the fresh mozzarella was melted just enough to warm it without making it bubble, and the basil and anchovy were sprinkled throughout with a measured hand, neither overpowering nor underwhelming the cheese and sauce. The crust was so tender and thin that I actually ate the whole thing (ask anyone who has ever seen me eat American pizza and you will hear “she never eats the crust”). Pizza dough made by hand with top quality ingredients and baked in a wood burning oven is a taste sensation rivaled only by the taste of freshly made baguettes still warm out of the oven from a boulangerie in France. If you don’t eat carbohydrates, you are missing one of the great joys of life, especially if you don’t taste the pizza here.

I will be doing my best to bring everyone I know here whether or not they are going to see a movie in this complex on Maxella. Antica Pizzeria gives me hope that perhaps after tasting this pizza American taste buds will reject the processed disks they eat from other vendors. Once you taste something divine, you will never settle for less, and Antica Pizza is one of life’s pleasures,. What is the point of life if you do not experience pleasure?

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